Caution: Images are meant to be disturbing!
Montgomery, AL – Over 4,000 known and documented victims of racial terror lynching are memorialized at this National Memorial, opened in April, 2018. This site, established by the Equal Justice Initiative, was one of the most moving places we have ever visited. It is located in the Montgomery neighborhood where America’s civil rights movement began with the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955.
This statue depicts the anguish of a chained young couple with child, as her man is dragged away to be auctioned at the Montgomery slave market.
In the South, where the enslavement of black people was widely embraced, resistance to ending slavery persisted for another century following the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865.
This Memorial tells the story of more than 4,000 documented and confirmed racial terror lynchings that occurred in 805 different counties in 12 southern states between 1877 and 1950. Each county is represented by a hanging steel rectangle the size of a coffin, with the names and dates of each documented lynching and its victim. Over $20 million was raised through private donations to erect this monument.
You can see on this steel rectangle that ten racial terror lynchings took place in Carroll County, Missippippi on March 17, 1886. It is not unusual to see that multiple lynchings took place on a single day on many of the 805 different rectangles in the Memorial.
As you exit the main exhibit you come across 805 duplicate steel rectangles lying on their sides, waiting. The intention is for each of the 805 different counties to accept the rectangle that represents them, to be placed with honor within their border to memorialize the victims from their county. The Equal Justice Initiative retains the right to determine whether a potential site within each county is appropriate and worthy for the display.
If you’re ever traveling near Montgomery, AL, be sure to honor these victims by visiting the National Memorial for Peace and Justice.